Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Family rooms for Hong Kong’s sick children planned near new hospital

Government says it is discussing plan for 66-room block near under-construction hospital, with charity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 8:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 4:19pm

The strain affecting Hong Kong’s severely ill children and their families may soon be eased, with the government in talks with a charity over a new family residential block, near the city’s first children’s hospital.

Plans for a second site for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in the city were taking shape as Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, set to treat children with serious conditions like cancer and heart disease, nears completion.

The hospital is set to begin operation next year.

“We are positive with the plan ... discussion with the government has progressed well,” Iris Wong Ting-ting, executive director for the charity’s Hong Kong operations, which is dealing with the government, said.

The new facility is planned to house 66 family rooms over 15 or 16 floors. That is almost three times more rooms than the group’s first house in Hong Kong, near Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

That site, opened in 1996, is a homelike environment for sick children and their families to stay together. Parents can stay with sick children, who might need weeks or months of hospital treatment, all the time instead of just during hospital visiting hours.

Wong said the new building would take about three years to complete, after land has been secured.

The Lands Department said the group applied for a plot of government land on Yau Shun Street, Kwun Tong, for another Ronald McDonald House.

“The application is currently under departmental circulation and it is not possible to give a firm indication of timing for completion,” a department spokeswoman said.

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The proposed site is around an eight-minute drive from the under-construction children’s hospital in Kai Tak.

Up to 90 per cent of children in the Sha Tin facility are cancer patients. But Wong said she expected patients with more diverse kinds of problems, such as orthopaedic or burns injuries, to stay there in future, as most paediatric cancer patients would go to the new facility.

Professor Li Chi-kong, an expert on paediatric oncology at Chinese University, said having parents around can help ease sick children’s stress.

“Treatment faced by severely ill children could be tough ... they might feel worse without parents accompanying [them],” Li said.

He said staying at a residence could cut travel time for patients who have to make frequent short visits to hospital, while relieving pressure on hospital beds.

Janet Burton, chief field operations officer from the Chicago headquarters of Ronald McDonald House Charities, said she felt “encouraged” by the city’s support for the second facility.

“For us, it validates all of the work that has been done here already in the last 20 years,” Burton said.

“Here in Hong Kong, there was a great acknowledgement of the importance of parents’ presence in the care of the child.”

The government confirmed it had spoken to RMHC Hong Kong about a new Ronald McDonald House.

“The Food and Health Bureau and the Labour and Welfare Bureau support the project in principle and the relevant departments are processing the request,” a spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Hong Kong Children’s Hospital said it had been communicating with various non-governmental organisations with a view to working together. It is understood that RMHC Hong Kong was among those groups.